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Catherine MackayTop Contributor: Classical Music
5.0 out of 5 starsGareth and Gwen do what they do best: investigate.......another great murder mystery
Reviewed in the United States on July 24, 2016
Another awesome book in the Gareth and Gwen Medieval Mystery series that delivers a tightly woven story of murder, intrigue and that has enough twists and turns that will keep readers' eyes glued to the pages right up till the end. The Unexpected Ally continues the thread of the previous two books in the series as our slueths, Hywel and new friend Conell on the trail of a murderer and investigating the sacking and burning of a church by men wearing the surcoats of Gwynedd. Who is impersonating soldiers from Gwynedd? What role has King Madoc and Cadwalladr played in Erik's murder and the sacking of the Church at Wrexham? With so many threads to investigate and people lying left, right and centre, will Gareth and Gwen get to the bottom of things before the peace accords between Gwynedd and Powys descend into all out war. I really enjoy the way Sarah intersperses her stories with historical details that really sets the tone and scene so effectively and makes me feel like I am right there investigating with Gwen and Gareth. I'm hoping there will be some more Gareth and Gwen mysteries still to come :)
Great plotting, story to move the saga along, fine writing. Still don't understand all the politics but more than I did the previous 7 books...so I feel good about that! A bit less suspenseful than the previous couple books and that's a bit of a relief for a reader who gets nervous when the events around the next corner are shocking or unexpected! Keep reading, fans. Always worth it...on to number 9.
Reviewed in the United States on September 12, 2020
I've enjoyed reading this series. It has been fun for me to read these accounts and check out the history with my family history which goes back to these Welsh princes and beyond. It's fun to see where history and fiction meet.
I found that this book had a lot of twist and turns and kept me guessing. The parts I find annoying about Sarah Woodbury's writing is her thing about describing the men characters having pursed lips. Like really, what is that about?
Things are getting really interesting in Wales. The new eifling is getting established in his new role. Gwen's old friend turns up from the first book in the series. Other characters reappear. An excellent read.
5.0 out of 5 starsIf you love history you will thoroughly enjoy the writings of Sarah Woodbury.
Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2020
I have read several series written by Sarah Woodbury and have thoroughly enjoyed each book I've read and look forward to reading more. I have also enjoyed her website and travels. I love history and have learned a great deal about the middle ages from her writings and her travels.
5.0 out of 5 starsI am drawn to good characters with whom I feel compassion
Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2018
Again, I am drawn to good characters with whom I feel compassion, fear for. and generally enjoy. Coupled with a plausible and thought provoking plot, I am drawn to historical mysteries. For fast reading I do not appreciate long involved psychological dramas. Sarah Woodbury's books give me everything I need for a good read.
5.0 out of 5 starsAnother great Gareth and Gwen gem...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 1, 2017
I am a fan of Gareth and Gwen. This one did not disappoint. I don't know what makes Sarah Woodbury's writing so compelling but you get plunged into a myriad of royal conspiracies, coupled with accurate historical events. Gareth and Gwen are a lovely medieval couple. In 'The Unexpected Ally'', there is a plot to kill Prince Hywel. That does not sound good, after the death of Prince Rhun (Ok, ok, this is not a spoiler, this is mentioned in the synopsis). But the real eye opener is the surprising ending. Clever and interesting. Ah, you may ask, where is that Cadwaladr? well, you know him, he is around, busy plotting.. There were times where I had to slow down my reading as there has been a while since my last read of Gareth and Gwen and this one. So, what I did is do a quick re-read of all of them. Bottom line, it is necessary, in my opinion, to have read them all in order to appreciate the intrigue.
5.0 out of 5 starsAn Unexpected Ally - and Unexpected Villains, too.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 6, 2018
Another fascinating story in which we have returned to the intrigues, twists and turns of the court of King Owain, this time in dispute with his brother-in-law Madog of Powys. Not only is there the unexpected ally of the title - but definitely some unexpected villains, too. I like, too, the realities of medieval life - recovering from injuries is not instant, they continue to have a bearing on things - and feeling your age, in your thirties, when comparing yourself to young men of fifteen.
This is very much a continuation of the story of the previous two books - I don't think it would stand alone - but, really, who would start reading a series at book 8?